A nonprofit opposed to houses on Club West’s golf course has asked a judge to stop an apparent fast-track effort by the HOA’s board to push a homeowners’ vote on a plan by four investors who bought the site last week.
The Club West Conservancy last week asked a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to issue a temporary injunction against the Foothills Club West Community Association.
The request asks the judge to bar any further board action on The Edge’s plan for the site, which it bought from Wilson Gee and renamed “The Park at Club West.”
The HOA board told residents last week The Edge has a plan for a “limited amount of development and a maximum amount of open park space.”
While it is unclear if that plan will be presented at the board’s monthly meeting next week, Conservancy attorney Francis Slavin said in his injunction request that the board is taking “unauthorized actions to maneuver themselves into a position of apparent authority to amend” the course’s land-use regulations.
Accusing the board of “a scheme” to engineer what he contends would be an illegal homeowners association election “to allow non-golf uses” of the site, Slavin said he asked the board’s lawyer to hold off on any further action on The Edge plan.
But Slavin quoted an email from board attorney Scott Carpenter that said, “I talked to my client. In the absence of an injunction, my client will not accede to the equivalent of an injunction against its own decision-making regarding issues that may become before the Board of Directors regarding the golf course.”
Slavin said he had asked Carpenter to have the board hold off further action on The Edge’s plan until the judge rules on Carpenter’s request to dismiss the Conservancy’s lawsuit.
The Conservancy’s lawsuit contends the board improperly changed the “declarant rights” governing the course to allow for an approval by 16 percent of Club West’s approximate 2,400 homeowners to alter the site’s use.
The Conservancy claims changes to the declarant rights can’t be made until they are approved by 75 percent.
The HOA board’s apparent position contrasts sharply with a letter it sent homeowners last month that said, “The HOA Board has never nor will it ever ‘conspire’ with land developers to ‘grease the skids’ for a community vote to change the golf course” covenants, conditions and restrictions.”
Calling the website maintained by Club West’s management company, Vision Management, “the only appropriate source of information regarding the community,” the board gave a different rendition of what it would require to change the course’s use.
“Any changes to the golf course CC&Rs require a majority (50% +1) vote by the homeowners that vote in the special election,” it said.
But the Conservancy sent out a rebuttal to the board’s letter, stating:
“The (board) has a legal and ethical obligation to represent the community as a whole in an open and transparent manner,” the Conservancy said. “It is the opinion of the (Club West Conservancy) that the (board) has not been meeting this obligation in numerous important ways.”
The Conservancy also told homeowners the board had held a series of secret meetings to approve the amendment to the course’s CC&Rs – a contention the board denies.
“The bottom line here is that this amendment was passed in secret to make it MUCH easier to get approval for new housing on the Golf Course property.,” the Conservancy said.
The Conservancy also noted that the board had withdrawn a lawsuit against Gee two years ago that aimed to force him to return the site to “a world-class golf course” as the CC&Rs require.
It said the board excused its inaction against Gee because the site had been in escrow by the Edge and, earlier, by another group that had considered buying it.
“By changing the Golf Course CC&Rs in a closed session to benefit a vote for building homes on the Golf Course land, the (board) in effect has pitted homeowners against each other,” the Conservancy said.
“In addition, it allows for a significant change in the general plan and design of the Club West community without support of a majority of the community,” it continued. “The bottom line is that this is a breach of their fiduciary duty because it seeks to favor some homeowners on golf course lots over others.”
That was a reference to the 357 homeowners whose property abuts the course. Houses built anywhere on the course would block the views of at least some of those owners, who paid premium lot prices for their locations.
The conservancy added, “The last few months have been eye opening to members of CWC with regard to just how little regard the BOD has for engagement with the community.
“Unfortunately, like most of you, prior to the recent developments, we assumed that the BOD was acting in an open and transparent manner in the interest of the entire community. We were wrong.”
The Conservancy wants the community to decide the future use of the course as either a preserve or restored for golf.
As of AFN’s deadline, the judge had not yet set a hearing date on the injunction request.